Solving the Rhino Poaching ProblemPosted: June 30, 2014
The big five in Africa are the lion, leopard, elephant, water buffalo and rhino. These are the animals everyone wants to see. We were awoken this morning at 5:45 to go on our morning game drive with same gang as yesterday. Right away we saw a pair of zebra and antelope and then we had a while between sightings.
Suddenly our guide Hugo pulled off the road and drove through the bush over trees and scrub and stopped suddenly beside a lion pride of three females and a young male. The lazy group were relatively uninterested in us as we photographed them.
Then bang bang bang we saw a troop of baboons, and elephant with very large tusks, a pair of leopards with a randy female and a disinterested male, many kudu, a waterbuck, giraffe, alligator, monitor lizard and birds galore. With the water buffalo from last night we have seen four of the big five in two drives, but alas not rhino for us yet.
At dinner last night we had the pleasure of eating with a guy who just said his name was Jack. He had his sweet dog Jewels with him who flew in with him on his helicopter. Turns out Jack has more than a little interest in Leopard Hills and what happens in Kruger.
The discussion turned to the problem of rhino poaching. According to Jack, if I am remembering the numbers right, there are only 2,000 Rhino left in the world and a thousand of them are in Kruger. The Vietnamese and Chinese believe that the horn of a rhino has great healing powers and a horn is valued at $1,000,000 on the black market. Of course there is no white market for rhino horns and with that much money at stake it puts all rhino at terrible risk. The South African Government is trying to combat poaching, but there is hardly enough money that any private/public effort can throw at it to combat the crimes committed against the rhino. Thanks to ancient old wives tales the Asians think rhino horn can cure cancer and are willing to pay crazy amounts to save a loved one from death.
As the discussion at the dinner table went on about how to solve this problem my mind went immediately to a crazy answer. Create a new wives tale that Rhino dung is a weight loss aid. The only thing bigger than a cure for cancer is a cure for fatness. If the world could start thinking that a rhino only byproduct could make them skinny then a huge amount of money could be raised from the sale of rhino poop. It could single handedly stop rhino poachers if they could get more money from collecting rhino poop than from killing a rhino and taking it’s single horn. Rhino have the potential to live for years, imagine the amount of poop they could produce.
So I throw this idea out to the scientific and animal loving communities together. Save the rhino and cure human kind’s obesity at the same time. The Chinese have started getting fat, they need this cure and could change their rhino horn loving ways. I hope we get to see a Rhino this afternoon while some still exist. I’m not sure I can get any dung, but if I come home any skinnier I’ll give credit to the rhino just to get this rumor started.